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Chapter 2 - Signatures

A. Signature Requirement

USCIS requires a valid signature on applications, petitions, requests, and certain other documents filed with USCIS.[1] Except as otherwise specifically authorized, a benefit requestor must personally sign his or her own request before filing it with USCIS.[2]

In order to maintain the integrity of the immigration benefit system and validate the identity of benefit requestors, USCIS rejects any benefit request with an improper signature and returns it to the requestor.[3] USCIS does not provide an opportunity to correct (or cure) a deficient signature. The benefit requestor, however, may resubmit the benefit request with a valid signature. As long as all other filing requirements are met, including payment of the required fee, USCIS may accept the resubmitted benefit request.

If USCIS accepts a request for adjudication and later determines that it has a deficient signature, USCIS denies the request. If USCIS needs additional information to confirm that a person[4] is authorized to sign on behalf of another person, corporation, or other legal entity, USCIS may issue either a Request for Evidence (RFE) or a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) to confirm that such signature authority existed at the time the document was submitted.

If USCIS issues a denial based on a deficient signature or unauthorized power of attorney (POA), the benefit requestor retains any motion and appeal rights associated with the applicable form.[5]

B. Valid Signature

A valid signature consists of any handwritten mark or sign made by a person to signify the following:

  • The person knows of the content of the request and any supporting documents;

  • The person has reviewed and approves of any information contained in such request and any supporting documents; and

  • The person certifies under penalty of perjury that the request and any other supporting documents are true and correct.

A valid signature does not need to be legible or in English, and may be abbreviated as long as this is consistent with how the person signing normally signs his or her name. A valid signature does not have to be in cursive handwriting. A person may use an “X” or similar mark as his or her signature. A signature is valid even if the original signature on the document is photocopied, scanned, faxed, or similarly reproduced. Regardless of how it is transmitted to USCIS, the copy must be of an original document containing an original handwritten signature, unless otherwise specified. The regulations do not require that the person signing submit an “original” or “wet ink” signature on a petition, application, or other request to USCIS.

When determining whether a signature is acceptable, officers should review any applicable regulations, form instructions, and policy to ensure that the signature on a particular benefit request is proper. USCIS does not accept signatures created by a typewriter, word processor, stamp, auto-pen, or similar device.

For benefit requests filed electronically as permitted by form instructions, USCIS accepts signatures in an electronic format. Benefit requestors must follow the instructions provided to properly sign electronically. [6]

Acceptable and Unacceptable Signatures

Acceptable

Unacceptable

  • Original signature

  • Handwritten “X,” or similar mark, in ink (including a fingerprint, if unable to write)

  • Abbreviated signature, if that is the normal signature

  • Signature of parent or legal guardian of benefit requestor if requestor is under 14 years of age

  • Signature by the benefit requestor’s legal guardian, surrogate, or person with a valid durable power of attorney or a similar legally binding document[7]

  • An original signature on the benefit request that is later photocopied, scanned, faxed, or similarly reproduced, unless otherwise required by form instructions

  • Electronic signature[8]

  • Typed name on signature line

  • Signature by an attorney or representative signing for the requestor or requestor's child

  • Signature created by a typewriter, word processor, stamp, auto-pen, or similar device[9]

C. Who May Sign

The signer of a benefit request or any document submitted to USCIS affirms that the signer has authority to sign the document, has knowledge of the facts being represented in the document, and attests to the veracity of the facts and claims made in the document. Signers may be held accountable for any fraud or material misrepresentation associated with the benefit request.

For any particular benefit request, USCIS may specify the signature requirements, as well as related evidentiary requirements, to establish signatory authority. Benefit requestors should refer to the benefit request and any accompanying instructions for benefit-specific information on signature requirements.

1. Benefit Requestors Themselves

In general, any person requesting an immigration benefit must sign their own immigration benefit request, and any other associated documents, before filing it with USCIS.[10] Therefore, corporations or other legal entities, attorneys, accredited representatives, agents,[11] preparers, and interpreters generally may not sign a benefit request, or associated documents, for a requestor.

By signing the benefit request, the requestor certifies under penalty of perjury that the benefit request, and all evidence submitted with it, either at or after the time of filing, is true and correct.

2. Parents and Legal Guardians of Requestors

A parent may sign a benefit request on behalf of a child who is under 14 years of age.[12] Children 14 years of age or older must sign on their own behalf. If a parent signs on behalf of a child, the parent must submit a birth certificate or adoption decree to establish the parent-child relationship.

A legal guardian[13] may also sign a benefit request on behalf of a child who is under 14 years of age, as well as for a mentally incompetent person of any age.[14]

By signing the benefit request, the parent or guardian certifies under penalty of perjury that the benefit request, and all evidence submitted with it, either at or after the time of filing, is true and correct.

Legal Guardian

A legal guardian is a person who a proper court or public authority has designated as the benefit requestor’s legal guardian or surrogate and who is authorized to exercise legal authority over the requestor’s affairs. Legal guardian does not include persons who were not appointed by the proper court or public authority, even if they have a legitimate interest in the legal affairs of the child or incapacitated adult, are acting in loco parentis, or are a family member.[15]

USCIS requires documentation to establish the legal guardian’s authority to sign a benefit request on behalf of the child or mentally incompetent requestor. Acceptable documentation includes, but is not limited to, official letters of guardianship or other orders issued by a court or government agency legally authorized to make such appointment under the law governing the place where the child or incapacitated requestor resides.

Designated Representative

For purposes of naturalization, a designated representative may also sign for the applicant who is unable to understand or communicate an understanding of the Oath of Allegiance because of a physical or developmental disability or mental impairment.[16]

Durable Power of Attorney Requirements

​USCIS accepts a durable POA or similar legally binding document only in the case of an incapacitated adult. A formal court appointment is not necessary if a person signs on behalf of an incapacitated adult under the authority of a POA.

A POA is a written authorization to act on another’s behalf in private or business affairs or other legal matters. A durable POA is a contract signed while a person is still competent that assigns power of attorney in the event that the person becomes incapacitated at some point in the future.[17]

In most cases, the language of the durable POA specifies steps that need to be taken in order for the durable POA to take effect. To assess whether a durable POA is valid and in effect, USCIS generally requires, at minimum, a copy of the durable POA, as well as evidence showing that the steps required for the durable POA to take effect have occurred. Often this evidence includes a physician’s statement indicating that the durable POA is in effect as the result of the incapacitated adult’s disability. USCIS accepts a durable POA only if it complies with the state laws where it was executed. It is the burden of the person making the request to demonstrate that a durable POA is valid and in effect under the applicable state law.

If the person providing signatory authority under the POA is also acting as the incapacitated benefit requestor’s attorney or authorized representative for purposes of appearing before DHS, the person must submit a Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative (Form G-28), and meet other regulatory requirements.[18]

3. Authorized Signers for Corporations or Other Legal Entities [19]

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), corporations and other legal entities, such as limited partnerships (LP), professional corporations (PC or P.C.), limited liability companies (LLC), or limited liability partnerships (LLP), may file certain requests with USCIS. Such a filing may include a request to classify an alien as an immigrant or nonimmigrant under a specific employment-based category, for example.

Benefit requests filed with USCIS by such legal entities may only be signed by a person with the authority to sign on behalf of the petitioning entity. Authorized persons may include, but are not limited to:

  • An executive officer of a corporation or P.C. with authority to act on behalf of the corporate entity and legally bind and commit the corporate entity in all matters (for example, chief executive officer, president, or vice president);

  • A managing partner or managing member of an LLC or LLP;

  • A duly authorized partner of a partnership;

  • An attorney employed in an employer-employee relationship by a corporation or other legal entity as its legal representative, or as a legal representative by the corporation or other legal entity’s legal department in an employer-employee relationship (for example, in-house counsel, or other attorney employees or contractors);

  • A person employed within the entity’s human resources, human capital, employee relations, personnel, or similar department who is authorized to sign legal documents on behalf of the entity;

  • An executor or administrator of an estate;

  • A trustee of a trust or a duly appointed conservator; or

  • Any other employee[20] of the entity who has the authority to legally bind and commit the entity to the terms and conditions attached to the specific request and attestations made in the request.

A sole proprietor is the only person authorized to sign a request filed on behalf of a sole proprietorship.

In all cases involving authorized signers for corporations or other legal entities, the benefit request must contain a statement by the person signing the request, affirming that:

  • He or she has the legal authority to file the request on the petitioning employer’s behalf;

  • The employer is aware of all of the facts stated in the request; and

  • Such factual statements are complete, true, and correct.

If such affirmation if the form itself, a signature by the person filing the form may be sufficient to meet this requirement. If the affirmation specified above is not contained in the form, the authorized signer must provide a separate statement affirming that he or she has the authority to legally bind the corporation or other legal entity.

If USCIS has reason to doubt a person’s authority to sign or act on behalf of a corporation or other legal entity, USCIS may request evidence that demonstrates the person has the requisite legal authority to sign the request. Such requested evidence may include, but is not limited to:

  • Bylaws;

  • Articles of organization;

  • A letter reflecting delegation of such authority from a corporate officer or board member;

  • Board of director’s minutes reflecting the grant or the board’s approval of such authority being exercised by the person in question; or

  • A similar document that indicates the employee may legally bind the corporation or other legal entity with his or her signature.                 

D. Clarification Regarding Form G-28

An attorney or accredited representative may sign and submit a Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative (Form G-28) to certify that the person, corporation, or other legal entity named in the Form G-28 has authorized the attorney or representative to act on the person’s or legal entity’s behalf in front of Department of Homeland Security (DHS). However, a Form G-28 by itself does not authorize a representative to sign a request or other document on behalf of a person or legal entity. Further, an attorney or representative may not use a POA to sign a Form G-28 on behalf of a person or legal entity to authorize his or her own appearance.

Footnotes


[^ 1] Except as specifically authorized in the regulations, this guidance, or in the respective form instructions, an applicant, petitioner, or requestor must personally sign his or her own request before filing it with USCIS.

[^ 2] See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(2). The term “request” refers to any written request for an immigration benefit, service, or request for action, whether the request is submitted on an Office of Management and Budget-approved form or is an informal written request submitted to USCIS. The term also includes any form supplements and any other materials that require the signature of the requestor. An example of an exception to this requirement is for naturalization applications where a designated representative may sign an application on behalf of an applicant who otherwise qualifies for an oath waiver under INA 337(a) because of a physical or developmental disability or mental impairment. For more information, see Volume 12, Citizenship and Naturalization, Part J, Oath of Allegiance, Chapter 3, Oath of Allegiance Modifications and Waivers, Section C, Waiver of the Oath [12 USCIS-PM J.3(C)].

[^ 3] See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(7).

[^ 4] Unless otherwise specified, the term “person” as used in the Policy Manual refers to a natural person.

[^ 5] A rejection of a filing with USCIS may not be appealed, see 8 CFR 103.2(a)(7)(iii).

[^ 6] See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(2).

[^ 7] Must contain evidence (such as a physician's statement) indicating that the durable POA is in effect as a result of the person's disability.

[^ 8] For benefit requests filed electronically as permitted by form instructions, USCIS accepts signatures in an electronic format. Benefit requestors must follow the instructions provided to properly sign electronically, see 8 CFR 103.2(a)(2).

[^ 9] In certain instances, a stamped signature may be allowed as provided by the form instructions. For example, a health department physician who is acting as a blanket-designated civil surgeon and submitting a vaccination assessment for a refugee adjusting status on the Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record (Form I-693) may provide an original (handwritten) or stamped signature, as long as it is the signature of the health department physician. See Form I-693 instructions (PDF, 327.18 KB). See Volume 8, Admissibility, Part B, Health-Related Grounds of Inadmissibility, Chapter 4, Review of Medical Examination Documentation, Section C, Documentation Completed by Civil Surgeon, Subsection 3, Signatures [8 USCIS-PM B.4(C)(3)]. For benefit requests filed electronically as permitted by form instructions, USCIS accepts signatures in an electronic format. Benefit requestors must follow the instructions provided to properly sign electronically, see 8 CFR 103.2(a)(2).

[^ 10] See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(2).

[^ 11] This Part does not address agents who are filing as a petitioner on behalf of a corporation or other legal entity seeking an H, O, or P nonimmigrant worker, as provided in 8 CFR 214.2(h)(2)(i)(F), 8 CFR 214.2(h)(5)(i)(A), 8 CFR 214.2(h)(6)(iii)(B), 8 CFR 214.2(o)(2)(i), 8 CFR 214.2(o)(2)(iv)(E), 8 CFR 214.2(p)(2)(i), and 8 CFR 214.2(p)(2)(iv)(E). See the governing regulations and Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129) instructions for more information on the applicable signature requirements for these particular nonimmigrant categories.

[^ 12] See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(2).

[^ 13] If a legal guardian signs on behalf of a requestor, the legal guardian must submit evidence to establish legal guardianship.

[^ 14] See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(2).

[^ 15] Different jurisdictions may have different terms for legal guardians, including conservator, committee, tutor, or other titles designating a duly appointed surrogate.

[^ 16] See Volume 12, Citizenship and Naturalization, Part J, Oath of Allegiance, Chapter 3, Oath of Allegiance Modifications and Waivers, Section C, Waiver of the Oath, Subsection 2, Legal Guardian, Surrogate, or Designated Representative [12 USCIS-PM J.3(C)(2)].

[^ 17] This scenario specifically describes a “springing” durable POA (as distinguished from an “immediate” durable POA). See Black’s Law Dictionary, 2nd Ed. (“durable power of attorney”). Because USCIS only accepts durable POAs that are in effect as the result of an incapacitated adult’s disability, a valid durable POA accepted by USCIS would necessarily be springing.

[^ 18] See 8 CFR 292.

[^ 19] This section does not address agents who are permitted to act as a petitioner for a corporation or other legal entity seeking an H, O, or P nonimmigrant worker, as provided in 8 CFR 214.2(h)(2)(i)(F), (h)(5)(i)(A), (h)(6)(iii)(B), (o)(2)(i), (o)(2)(iv)(E), (p)(2)(i), or (p)(2)(iv)(E). See the particular nonimmigrant category’s regulations or the Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129) instructions for the requirements governing the scope of an agent’s authority in those contexts.

[^ 20] The person’s title or department within the corporation or other legal entity is not determinative.

Resources

Legal Authorities

8 CFR 103.2 - Submission and adjudication of benefit requests

INA 103, 8 CFR 103 - Powers and duties of the Secretary, the Under Secretary, and the Attorney General

INA 244, 8 CFR 244 - Temporary protected status

Pub. L. 101-649 (PDF) - Section 153 of the Immigration Act of 1990 (IMMACT 90) - Special immigrant status for certain aliens declared dependent on a juvenile court

Appendices

Appendix: 2020 Fee Rule Litigation Summary

On Sept. 29, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in Immigration Legal Resource Center et al., v. Wolf, et al., 20-cv-05883-JWS, preliminarily enjoined DHS from implementing or enforcing any part of the USCIS Fee Schedule and Changes to Certain Other Immigration Benefit Request Requirements rule (PDF).

While the rule is preliminarily enjoined, we will continue to:

  • Accept USCIS forms with the current editions and current fees; and
  • Use the regulations and guidance currently in place to adjudicate applications and petitions. This includes accepting and adjudicating fee waiver requests as provided under Adjudicator's Field Manual (AFM) Chapters 10.9 (PDF, 2.87 MB) and 10.10 (PDF, 2.87 MB).

Updates

POLICY ALERT - Fee Schedule and Changes to Certain Other Immigration Benefit Request Requirements Final Rule

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is revising its policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to align with the Fee Schedule and Changes to Certain Other Immigration Benefit Request Requirements Final Rule, published in the Federal Register on August 3, 2020. This guidance becomes effective October 2, 2020. For information regarding implementation, see our litigation summary.

Read More
Technical Update - Moving the Adjudicator’s Field Manual Content into the USCIS Policy Manual

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating and incorporating relevant Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM) content into the USCIS Policy Manual. As that process is ongoing, USCIS has moved any remaining AFM content to its corresponding USCIS Policy Manual Part, in PDF format, until relevant AFM content has been properly incorporated into the USCIS Policy Manual. To the extent that a provision in the USCIS Policy Manual conflicts with remaining AFM content or Policy Memoranda, the updated information in the USCIS Policy Manual prevails. To find remaining AFM content, see the crosswalk (PDF) between the AFM and the Policy Manual.

POLICY ALERT - Submission of Benefit Requests

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding submission of benefit requests to USCIS.

Read More
Technical Update - Replacing the Term “Foreign National”

This technical update replaces all instances of the term “foreign national” with “alien” throughout the Policy Manual as used to refer to a person who meets the definition provided in INA 101(a)(3) [“any person not a citizen or national of the United States”].